NSW star Damien Cook has backed Latrell Mitchell to be picked in the Blues squad on Monday ahead of the Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.
Mitchell is playing his first game in almost 12 weeks on Saturday night after hamstring injury lay-off which he sought treatment for in the United States.
There’s a three-way battle unfolding for the left centre position with Mitchell battling Jack Wighton and Stephen Crichton – who played there when NSW demolished Queensland in Game II last Sunday.
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Crichton came off the bench in the series opener and Wighton was the best player on the field that night but he missed the second game due to Covid.
Fully fit, Mitchell would be picked ahead of both those players and NSW coach Brad Fittler must now weigh up whether to risk picking the superstar after just 80 minutes of football in almost three months.
Cook was unsure if Mitchell would crack the 17 but backed his South Sydney teammate to have his name read out when the Blues squad is announced on Monday.
“I feel like he can just kick us along a little bit more and obviously a lot in our attack and defence as well so but in terms of having him in the squad, a player of his calibre and the player he is obviously going to be great to have around camp if he is in there,” Cook told the Fox League Podcast.
“Whether he’s in the side or he’s apart of the squad, he’ll be making sure we’re training well all week and testing us and that’ll be great value to New South Wales.”
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Cook said Mitchell is bursting to get back out on the field for the Bunnies blockbuster clash against the Eels this Saturday.
“Mate he’s on the edge of his seat, he’s itching to get out there,” Cook said.
“I know that every time he speaks it’s just all about the stuff that he’s been through the last 12 weeks.
“It’s been tough for him but he’s got the hard work done that he needs to get done and he’s ready to go, he’s bouncing around at training, he just wants to get on there.
“I was watching him train before I went to the second camp with the NSW Cup boys doing edge on edge defence and the poor guys.
“JD (Jason Demetriou) had to go remind them ‘don’t worry you’re not playing Latrell this week’ so mate he’s ready to go and like I said before he’s going to be great to have back.
“I just want to see him go out there and enjoy himself and have a good game and get through unscathed and continue our season from there.”
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